Cold, so Cold. I hate the cold. No, I despise it. I’ve been living on the streets for eight years now and all I’ve ever known is cold. I find it difficult to get a good job, and because I don’t have a good job or any job at all, I literally can’t eat. It’s so bad that sometimes I don’t eat for like three days straight. And now it’s evening, it’s dark, it’s cold, and I’m hungry.
My name is Fola, and I’m sure you’re wondering how I ended up like this, well it’s a very wonderful story.
Pshh... I wish.
Anyway, just relax and listen.
It all began with my mother, she was a prostitute, like a big-time prostitute. Her mum was also a prostitute. Well let me just say she came from a line of women that were prostitutes. But I refused to become one. And my dad? I have no idea who he is seeing as she slept with thousands of men. You see, she tried to convince me about how good being a prostitute is.
“It’s really easy to do”
Her words not mine. But I said no. She wasn’t happy about it and I really didn’t care. But come to think of it, I don’t know why I said so but all the same, I thank God that I did.
On my 13th birthday, she got me a gift. This gift was in form of a human being. It was a man, an old man. He was like in his 50′s or something. I was totally confused. I had no idea why a fifty-year-old man would be my birthday gift. She said ‘I am now a woman, so I should start paying for the house bills, in any way that I can’. She said ‘she has given me my first job which is her gift to me’. I didn’t understand, I mean I was just thirteen, how was I a woman, like how? I’m just a teenage girl. How can she say I’m a woman?
I couldn’t do it. So I said no. Out of anger and frustration, she threw me out. Typical right? I have been living on the Streets ever since. Honestly, my mum didn’t like the fact that I came into this world. She felt I was bad luck to her. But I kept it together because deep down, I knew that it will all be better.
This brings us to now. Like I said before, I’m cold and hungry. And I’m currently standing in front of a restaurant here in Lagos begging for food. But the owner is just giving me this wicked, ugly, smile because I refused to sleep with him. I can’t sleep with him, I won’t. And because of this, I won’t be eating today. But Lord knows I’m starving. I don’t know what to do.
“Listen to me, emm..., what’s your name?” said the ugly restaurant guy″
“Fola, sir” I replied.
“Okay. Fola, good. Now listen. If you don’t do what I ask you to do, you will not eat in my restaurant. See I am trying to help you, but you also have to help me too”.
What? Help him? How? I held my cardigan tighter around myself to keep the cold away.
“Sir I really can’t do it. Please just give me a slice of bread I’ll really be grateful sir please”.
He looked at me with disgust.
“Rubbish, smelling girl you want me to give you something and you won’t give me anything in return? lai lai... not going to happen. See if you won’t give me what I want, leave my restaurant before I slap that dirty face of yours....ugly thing, get out from here, o jare!”
He picked up a huge stick to chase me away. Spinning around, I ran. I ran so fast and I ran blindly.
I was so scared that I didn’t pay attention to where I was going until I ran into him.
My head was spinning, I think I ran into a wall. I was on the ground and my behind was on fire, I hope I didn’t break any bone in there. I looked up and up and up and, what the...Oh my god!
(If anyone can see my face right now, they’ll see absolute fear and terror) I ran into a freaking monster. No, no, no, not a monster, a beast! He is at least 6 foot 4, tall, huge, bulky arms and legs, I think this guy is a wrestler or a killer or both. I don’t know but what I do know is I have to keep on running like I need to run away from this guy, like right now. I couldn’t see his face cause it was quite dark. Oh did I mention I fell right on my behind because of the freaking wall in front of me? Yes, I did. Anyway, I tried to get up but I felt this unbearable pain in my ankle. I touched my ankle, it felt a bit off. What do I do now? I have no home, no one to take care of me, how will survive with this injury, God why me?
The cause of my pain was crouching in front of me. He noticed I was in pain and decided to help but I was having none of it. I’m a big girl I don’t need his help. I flinched away from him once he stretched his hand towards me. He noticed it and stopped. He looked at my face, saw the fear and immediately moved away from me. Then he spoke, and what a voice, deep, really deep and husky,
“Please don’t be scared, let me help you”
I stared at him. He had a really nice voice.
No, Fola stop thinking about his voice he could be a killer remember? Run! You need to run! I tried getting up again and the pain came back. Shoot! This is bad, this is really bad. The wall spoke again.
“Please don’t move you’ll make it worse”.
Well since I couldn’t walk, sitting down sounded like a great idea so I left my behind right where it was; on the ground.
“I’m Michael,” he said, introducing himself by stretching his hand to give me a handshake. I looked at it, then at him. Well it’s just a handshake what’s the worst that could happen? I placed my palm gently on his. It was warm, strong and firm. I let him go then shifted back a little. He stayed where he was, looking at me, straight in the eye, no joke he looked right through me. I don’t know what I was feeling anymore but I was no longer scared. I felt this “wall” could help me, protect me or something but I didn’t want to just give my trust to some random guy cause again he could be a killer. I kept my mouth shut and kept staring at him.
“I don’t know who you are, he said, “But I want to help you please let me help you”
“You could be a killer” I blurted out (oh my god did I just say that?)
He smiled and it was a nice smile.
“Yes, you’re right I could be a killer, and it’s good that you’re being smart right now. But you can’t walk because of your ankle. Apart from that, you look hungry, cold, and tired. So please just let me help you”
He stretched out his hand again, but he did it slowly trying not to scare me than I already was. Okay, I have no other option, this is the only help I can get. I said a quick prayer in my heart telling God in heaven to protect me then I placed my hand in his and allowed him to help me up.
He didn’t help me up; he carried me like I weighed nothing. A tiny squeak came out of my mouth and I immediately wrapped my arms around his shoulders to stop myself from falling. He looked at me and smiled, I glared at him. He laughed. I decided to ignore him cause I really needed his help. We started to leave the place and I kept thinking.... What in the world have I done? I don’t know this guy, I don’t know where he is taking me to. Maybe I should tell him to put me down and he could go his merry way to wherever he was going to. I could just limp my way to a shed and stay for the night.
Well, that doesn’t sound like a bad idea, only that I will freeze to death or die of hunger. By the way, while I was thinking about this we were still walking and he was looking at me.
“I wonder what you’re thinking about now Fola. Do you want me to put you down? Or do you have someone that can help you?”
I thought of lying but the truth came right out.
“No, I don’t have anyone or any place to stay”
He nodded his head.
“Then we shall find you a place, some good food, and a doctor to take care of your ankle”
Oh my, that will be awesome, I said silently to myself. I’ll sleep well tonight. This is amazing.
“Thank you”. I replied.
But then he said something that made my heart sink right into my belly.
“You will be staying at my house tonight”.
Darn it, what have I gotten myself into?
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